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I couldn’t find anyone commercially growing nettles, but most market gardeners will just leave a patch to supply individual requests. Allsun Farm’s Joyce Wilkie and Michael Plane who supply nettles to Sage, explained that nettles love rich soil, full of organic matter and are a regular invader in between plantings of their organic vegetable crops. Constant weeding is needed to remove them, and that makes the occasional commercial sale to a nettle-aware chef a bonus.

If you choose to pick them wild, (and many people do if they're into wild harvesting and frugal living), nettles grow both in sun and in shaded areas. Creek and river banks are classic spots. They love soil that has high nitrogen content so you'll find them in well manured cow paddocks. They grow all year round, flowering in spring and dropping seeds in summer, and obviously growing better when there’s water. Avoid the dark green leaves, it’s the softer pale green leaves at the top that you want to pick.

The nettle's Latin name Urtica comes from the word, "uro," which means "I burn." And that burning pain is almost a fool proof method of telling it’s a nettle. Distinguishing sub varieties is harder. If you can’t buy from a green grocer and are harvesting wild ones, you are more likely to find Urtica urens - the small nettle and Urtica diocia - the tall nettle, which has longer leaves and more spikes on the stalks.
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Above: Joyce at Allsun Farm uses a salad-green cutter, perfect for a hands-free nettle harvest. A serrated cutting edge is moved from side to side and the greens fall into the canvas bin. (Allsun sell and can source high quality garden implements such as the salad harvester).